Monday, May 31, 2010

White Roses by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

HP 902
ISBN 978-1-60260-755-2

Grayson can’t seem to move on.

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. Grayson knows he needs to move on, that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy for him or his young son. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve him of some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at his church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her.

For years, florist Adrea Welch has been artfully arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a faithful, grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife?

When secrets from Adrea’s past collide with their budding relationship, both she and Grayson must learn to lean on God’s abiding wisdom.

SHANNON TAYLOR VANNATTER is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, Grant, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, a dragonfish, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Did any of you watch the Brady Bunch? Who was your favorite character?

Friday, May 28, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Rose who said...

"My husband and I walk daily, sometimes we switch it up and take a bike ride. During the winter months, we use an elliptical."

Yay Rose for the winning comment and for being a faithful exerciser!

Please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com, and you can have your choice of either of this weeks featured books by Jennifer, or, if you are a member of the Heartsong Bookclub, you can choose to win 10 Heartpoints toward future shipments.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From The Vault--By His Hand by Jennifer Johnson

By His Hand
H S #725
ISBN: 9781597890823

"Chris will bring you to the ranch."
"What?" She looked at the overgrown man who had turned toward Troy. Victoria watched as the sheriff nodded his head to whatever Chris had said to him. "I can't ride with him."
"Yes, you can. Trust me. He's a great guy. I'd come and get you in a heartbeat, but I can't."
"Trust me. You'll be fine."
"But he hates me."
"Chris Ratliff hates no one." A crash followed by crying sounded over the phone. "Gotta go."
Victoria pushed the OFF button on her cell phone and glanced toward her ride. Chris stood with both hands shoved in his pockets. His eyes glazed and his jaw set in a hard line when he looked at her. Lifting one side of her mouth in an attempted smile, Victoria gave up the notion, walked to her Suburban, grabbed her purse, and popped open a bottle of pain reliever. She swallowed two tablets, struggling to push them down her seemingly swollen throat. Begging God to keep her from getting sick, she noted the scowling expression on Chris's face. Victoria felt confident that Sondra had no idea what she was talking about.

Victoria's Life has taken an unexpected turn, and the crash into the rugged mechanic's Corvette doesn't help matters. Forced into making her own way, the riches-to-rags Victoria Thankful must rely on the kindness of her sister-in-law until she is able to provide for herself. Christ Ratcliff lives a very simple life with simple dreams, but raising his teenage sister is nothing short of complicated. When a cute brunette slams into his life, Chris surprises himself by accepting her help with taming his sister. Can Victoria accept God's will, even if it includes a blue-collar man? Will Chris trust God with his heart when it comes to a gal who's anything but simple?

Did you marry a blue collar guy or gal or white collar?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest Blog with Jennifer Johnson

Thanks so much for allowing me to participate on this blog again. I’m very excited for Gaining Love to be delivered into the hands of my readers. It is the third book in my Delaware contemporary stories. Of the three, Finding Home, For Better or Worse, and Gaining Love, Gaining Love was the hardest for me to write.


Well, because it dealt with two issues that I believe most of us deal with in some way. Zoey struggled with misuse of her credit card. I’ve been guilty of that multiple times myself, ultimately ending up not able to do or buy something I really wanted because I have to pay back that dreaded card. And Mark dealt with being overweight and having high blood pressure as a result of his overeating.

Sheesh! Now those are some topics to deal with.

But, you know, they’re topics that we’re all dealing with in some way or another. My own husband is only 39-years-old and has been taking high blood pressure medicine for years. He is actually very much like Mark in the story. He has about forty pounds he needs to lose.

And, I, like Zoey, have to hide the credit cards from myself. I call myself an emotional shopper. If I’m stressed or sad, I want to run over to mall and hit the department stores. The sad thing is the outfit I purchase never really makes me feel better. It generally just adds to my stress or sadness because I can be so undisciplined.

So, there you have it. This book was TOUGH to write. I had to do some soul searching about myself. I learned (as I’ve learned so many times) that God is our only true comfort. He’s our only true fix. Not food. Not shopping. Only Him.

I hope you enjoy the book!

How do you deal with stress or sadness?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Excerpt from Gaining Love

At just 27, bank loan officer Mark White is overweight and already suffers from high blood pressure-a condition that contributed to his father's early death. Determined to get back in shape before it's too late, Mark joins a gym.

Zoey Coyle is a fitness trainer who has turned her life around and back to the Lord. She has faced the consequences of poor choices before. Her next major hurdle is getting on top of her credit card debt by controlling her impulse shopping.

Mark can't believe a beautiful, godly woman like Zoey could be interested in a balding, out-of-shape former quarterback like him. And Zoey fears Mark will run when he learns her three-year-old cousin is really her illegitimate son.

God has forgiven their sins. But will Mark and Zoey extend grace to one another?

How many of you go to the gym regularly or have some sort of exercise routine you practice faithfully? What motivates you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gaining Love by Jennifer Johnson

HP 901
ISBN 978-1-60260-847-4

Mark and Zoey must make some changes.

At just 27, bank loan officer Mark White is overweight and already suffers from high blood pressure—a condition that contributed to his father’s early death. Determined to get back in shape before it’s too late, Mark joins a gym.
Zoey Coyle is a fitness trainer who has turned her life around and back to the Lord. She has faced the consequences of poor choices before. Her next major hurdle is getting on top of her credit card debt by controlling her impulse shopping.
Mark can’t believe a beautiful, godly woman like Zoey could be interested in a balding, out-of-shape former quarterback like him. And Zoey fears Mark will run when he learns her three-year-old cousin is really her illegitimate son.
God has forgiven their sins. But will Mark and Zoey extend grace to one another?

JENNIFER JOHNSON and her unbelievably supportive husband, Albert, are happily married and raising Brooke, Hayley, and Allie, the three cutest young ladies on the planet. Besides being a middle school teacher, Jennifer loves to read, write, and chauffeur her girls. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Blessed beyond measure, Jennifer hopes to always think like a child—bigger than imaginable and with complete faith. Send her a note at

Today is Jennifer's birthday, so today's question: Would you like to send her birthday wishes?

Friday, May 21, 2010

This Week's Winner!

Shannon Taylor Vannatter!


Shannon, please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com, and you can have your choice of either of this weeks featured books by Erica, or, if you are a member of the Heartsong Bookclub, you can choose to win 10 Heartpoints toward future shipments.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From The Vault - The Bartered Bride

By Erica Vetsch
– HS 875
ISBN: 9781602605893

Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or be disinherited. Jonathan has invested years of his life in Kennabrae Shipping, but heaven help him if Grandfather decides to take it all away for this.

Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father’s business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Engaged to marry a man she has never met—someone “considerably older” than herself? What have her parents done?

Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?

An Excerpt:

“My wife and I,” Almina had joined Lawrence Brooke, tucking her arm into his elbow and beaming on the crowd, her gaze lingering longest on Jonathan and Melissa. “Are pleased to announce the engagement of our daughter, Melissa, to Mr. Jonathan Kennebrae. Please join us in congratulating the happy couple.” He lifted the glass in their direction. A polite wave of applause welled up.
Melissa stood, knocking her chair over onto the grass. She put her hand to her mouth, turning her head wildly from Jonathan to her parents, then back again. Jonathan rose slowly, easing up on numb legs.
“Kennebrae?” She whispered so low he had to stoop to hear her. “Your name is Kennebrae?”
“Of course it is. What else would it be?”
She blinked, staring at him. “But, I thought—” Her throat spasmed as she tried to swallow. “I thought…”
He caught her just before she hit the grass in a dead faint.

Proverbs 21:1 The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.

Have you ever fainted or been with someone who has?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guest Blog With ERICA VETSCH

There’s something so romantic about the image of a beautiful, red Concord stagecoach rolling across the prairie, six well-matched horses in a swinging gallop, their manes and tails streaming like flames of fire in the breeze created by their speed, while the driver, lines threaded through his hands, shouts encouragement. A hawk-eyed messenger rides beside him, an eight-gauge shotgun at the ready, his only job to protect the contents of the messenger box beneath his booted feet.

I remember my first stagecoach ride. (No, I’m not that old!) It was at Old Abilene Town in Abilene, Kansas, not far from my hometown. When I was a child, I got to ride atop a stagecoach down what used to be the main street of the legendary cow town. Thus began a love-affair with the old west and stagecoaches.

Mark Twain memorialized cross-country stage travel in his memoir Roughing It. Covering everything from the spare accommodations to the meager—and at times—unrecognizable meals offered to travelers, to sleeping atop mailbags crammed in the passenger compartment, Twain, in his inimitable way, brought the journey to life. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.

My fascination with stagecoaches was further fueled in high school when I read Six-Horse Hitch by Janet Holt Giles. This novel, the story of stage-driver Starr Fowler and the youngster Bucky Buchanan who grows up and steals his heart, is still one of my favorite books of all time. Giles goes into great detail about the life of the stage-driver, the skill needed to pilot a Concord through dangerous and difficult territory, and the history of the Overland Stage Company. She brings in historical characters that give the story veracity and texture.

I’ve always wanted to write stories set in the Old West, and when I began plotting a series set in historical Idaho, I knew I wanted to include stagecoaching in the stories. In my latest release, Clara and the Cowboy, and the next two books in the series, Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick, someone is robbing stages, and it is up to the McConnell brothers to find the culprit and bring him to justice. Along the way, each brother loses his heart to a woman that helps him rise above his past.

I had such fun researching staging. Wells Fargo, Butterfield, Central Overland & Pike’s Peak Express. Ben Holliday, Jack Slade, Wyatt Earp, and more. I delved into books with titles like Throw Down the Box! and Great Stagecoach Robberies of the Old West, and one of my favorites: A Bumpy Ride ~ A History of Stagecoaching in Colorado.

In my research I unearthed a list of passenger rules from the Wells Fargo stage line.

• Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
• If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the gentler sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it.
• Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
• Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort in cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
• Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
• Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
• In the event of runaway horses remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.
• Forbidden topics of conversation are: stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
• Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It's a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Aren’t these fun? I especially love the forbidden topics of conversation.  I hope you get a chance to read Clara and the Cowboy, and later this year Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick. I had a great time writing them and indulging my love of all things stagecoach.

Question for you. Is there something in American History that always grabs your interest? Perhaps the Civil War, or cowboys, or The Oregon Trail?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Excerpt From Clara and the Cowboy

“Alec?” His name came out a whisper on her lips. She was like one of those sirens of myth, calling to him, beckoning him to his destruction.
He couldn’t bear it anymore. She was so dear, and so close. His hands stole upward to her shoulders, and his head inclined toward hers. Her lips were only a breath away. His eyes closed.
“’Scuse me.”
Alec jumped back, dropping his arms from about her. He whipped his head around, heart thundering. Angus McConnell. Dear old dad. Alec didn’t know whether to punch him for barging in at such a moment, or thank him for keeping Alec from making a complete fool of himself.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Are you willing to share a time someone interrupted a special moment and how you felt, or perhaps, a time you made a complete fool of yourself?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clara and the Cowboy - Erica Vetsch

HS # 900
ISBN # 978-1-60260-770-5
Historical Idaho #1

Alec’s had to prove himself his entire life.

From his abusive, alcoholic father to the townspeople who treat him as if he’s cut from the same cloth to the insecurities that fill his own head, nothing he ever does is good enough. So how can he possibly let himself be in love with the boss’s daughter? And why on earth would she have declared her love for him?

In a fit of pique, Clara did indeed declare her love for Alec. And his flat, decisive rejection—even as his face and hands and lips denied his words—nearly broke her heart. Why can’t Alec look beyond the circumstances of his childhood to see the honorable man he’s become?

When Clara’s life is threatened by dangerous cattle rustlers, will Alec finally discover the answers he’s been seeking? If he lets go of the past, can he trust God for the future?

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at

Do any of you--like Erica--or have you ever worked in a family business? Doing what? If not, do you know someone who has? Was it a positive experience?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Drum Roll Please...

And the winner is Linda who said...
"I have several pieces of blown glass. They are all flowers and/or hummingbirds. Some have a little color, most are clear. They are all beautiful."

Linda, please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com, and you can have your choice of The Heiress HP 899 or Better Than Gold HP 791 both by Laurie Alice Eakes, or, if you are a member of the Heartsong Bookclub, you can choose to win 10 Heartpoints toward future shipments.

Thanks to all who participated and congrats to Linda.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From The Vault by Laurie Alice Eakes -- Better Than Gold

Heartsong Presents

Better Than Gold

H S #791

ISBN: 9781602600485

Lily is tired of her one-horse town. Lily Reese can't wait to escape Browning City, Iowa. She's sure she'll be happier in the big city, if only she can save enough money to get there. But then Ben Purcell rides into town, threatening not only Lily's place of residence and growing sense of family, but her safety and peace of mind, as well. And Ben has every intention of sticking around and becoming a small-town guy. How can Lily even consider the feelings he evokes in her? Rumors of a long-lost cache of gold bring danger swirling around them, but Lily and Ben find themselves on a quest for something more. Will releasing their plans and desires bring heartache or a reward they had never imagined?

Do you consider yourself a 'small town girl or guy' or a big city person--not based on where you live but what your heart longs for?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest Blog with Laurie Alice Eakes

New Jersey seems to get few breaks in the realm of literature. TV shows and certain books about a female bounty hunter convince the public that New Jersey is full of swindlers, murderers, and gamblers. So how could such a place inspire me?

Because New Jersey has always been a rather special place for me. My first job out of college landed me in New Jersey, where I worked for Send the Light, the American headquarters of Operation Mobilization, an international mission. Other opportunities took me elsewhere in the country, and I never forgot the place that introduced me to public transportation, New York City within an hour, and the myriad cultures that make up America.

Yes, I’d been a bit sheltered before this.

Several years later—we don’t need to say how many—I was again in New Jersey, this time for some training in the western part of the state, a land of magnificent trees and rolling hills, towns as old as they get in the U.S. and farms. While working on this training, I was also writing Better than Gold, the first Heartsong I sold and which has just been re-released in large print by Thorndike Press. That, too, made NJ special to me.

So when I wrote another proposed book series for Heartsong, choosing New Jersey seemed natural. Not knowing much about its history, other than it was one of the original thirteen colonies and heavily Dutch, I got some books from the library and started to read. When I got to the chapter on the glassmaking industry in the state, I stopped reading and started plotting.

What if a man from Scotland, one of the biggest producers of glass in the early 1800's, comes to America to work in the glass industry to make a better life for himself and his family. He will fall in love with. . . And run into trouble when. . . And have to make choices because. . .

The Glassblower was born.

Wanting a thread to tie the books together, I had Colin create a perfume bottle for his lady. It’s shaped like the state bird, the goldfinch, and will be a symbol of love and constancy to the family for generations. So what if a grandson loses that bauble and it contains a family secret?

Thus The Heiress was born, when Daire Grassick sells the goldfinch bottle to a young lady, who has recently inherited money , and then has to get it back to save the family from ruin. Except Susan can’t find it in her chaotic household. They set out on an adventure to find the goldfinch.

The climax of that adventure leads to the third book, The Newcomer, which will be out later this year.

But the New Jersey awesomeness hasn’t ended for me.

In the autumn of 2008, I was once again in NJ for some training and at a crossroads in my writing career. I hadn’t sold a book in a while and was questioning God’s will in my continuing to write. But two days after I arrived in New Jersey, my agent called to say that Heartsong was buying my New Jersey books. And a couple of fun facts stem from that. A man in my class was from Scotland and his name was Colin just like my hero’s. I spent a lot of time talking to him to get the cadence of the speech right.

The sale of the New Jersey books became the first of thirteen books I ended up selling over the next thirteen months.

So when you think of New Jersey, don’t think of mobsters and gangsters and inept bounty hunter females. Think of how God can use the most unlikely places and circumstances to give His guidance in life.

Do you have any preconceived ideas about New Jersey? Have you ever been there?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Excerpt From The Heiress

Daire Grassick paced back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the pawnshop. He possessed only one valuable object, and the dealer didn’t want to buy it.
“I’ve got to get home, Lord. Please.” The murmured prayer sounded strange to his ears. Weeks, perhaps months, had passed since he last spoke to the Lord. He relied on his own wit and strength—and failed.

Head bowed in shame, he plodded on one more circuit of the pavement, hoping, trying to pray further, that the pawnbroker would change his mind and step outside to hail Daire back into the shop. Doors along the street opened at regular intervals, disgorging or admitting men, women, and children. They talked and laughed and skirted Daire, as though they didn’t want to touch him. He supposed he did look a bit odd, a young man in fine, if somewhat rumpled clothes, striding to and fro in front of a door that remained closed, its toys and trinkets obscured behind dusty glass. His own bauble shimmered in his hands, golden glass as delicate as mist, as detailed as a snowflake, too fragile for him to carry about unprotected.

With one last hope that the secondhand shop dealer would see the ornament and step out of his store, Daire leaned against the front window and pulled the cotton wool wrapping from a bag flung over his shoulder. The scent of lilacs rose from the batting, a hint of the perfume his mother kept in the blown glass bottle shaped like a goldfinch, until she gave it to him, as his father’s mother had given it to him.
“For your future wife.”

The wife he’d been so certain he could win if only he left the farm in Salem County and headed for the city.

Another shudder of shame washed through him, and he shoved a strip of fabric around the bird.

“Don’t break it.” Two small hands in gray kid gloves curved around the sides of the goldfinch bottle. “It’s beautiful.”

Daire glanced up to the soft-voiced speaker and caught his breath. The bottle wasn’t the only beautiful creation on the sidewalk. Eyes the purply blue of the flowers growing on Grandmother’s summerhouse, gazed back at him from an oval face with skin so fine it resembled rare porcelain.

The Heiress Key Verse:

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
Luke 15:4, KJV

Do you own any blown glass? Or glass objects that are of value to you?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Heiress - Laurie Alice Eakes

HP 899
ISBN 978-1-60260-768-2

Susan longs for control of her money

Susan Morris has a fortune that could help those in need, yet all but a small allowance from her inheritance—left by her great-aunt to guarantee Susan a good match—is held in trust until she marries. What good works can she do if her future husband has other plans for her money?
Daire Grassick arrives at his injured father’s bedside only to learn that the blown-glass goldfinch heirloom he reluctantly sold for train fare home is more valuable than he imagined—and its loss could mean the ruin of the Grassick Glassworks.
By the time Daire finds Susan Morris to buy it back, the goldfinch and her brother are missing. Will they find the precious bauble before its secret is discovered? Or will God lead them to something of even greater value?

Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer. Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. After selling her first book in the inspirational market, she also wrote articles and essays for Christian publications. A brief hiatus in publishing climaxed with her selling thirteen books in thirteen months, to publishers such as Barbour, Avalon, and Baker/Revell.
She is an active member of RWA and ACFW, and started the Avalon Authors group blog. A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, And a Bachelor of Arts graduate in English and French from Asbury College, she is an experienced speaker, and has made presentations at local and national RWA conferences, as well as local universities and libraries.
Until recently, she lived in Northern Virginia, then her husband’s law career took them and their dogs and cats, to southern Texas, where she writes full-time and enjoys the beach whenever possible.

You can keep up with her and her books on her blog

Are you a collector? If yes, what do you collect?

Friday, May 7, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Rose whose favorite goodie to bake is Lemon Bars. Congratulations!!

Rose, please email us at heartsongblog at gmail dot com, and you can have your choice of Stillwater Promise - H S #857 or Parting Secrets - H S #898 both by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke, or, if you are a member of the Heartsong Bookclub, you can choose to win 10 Heartpoints toward future shipments.

Thanks to all who participated this week. God's best to each of you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

From The Vault

Stillwater Promise - H S #857
ISBN: 9781602605183

His nod was barely perceptible.
As desperately as Sara wanted to look away from the hurt on his face, she couldn’t. His eyes glistened and he blinked. Bending down, he picked up his jacket. She hadn’t seen it on the floor behind the coffee table. At the sight of the scarred brown leather her pulse skipped. She tried not to remember the scent of it, but couldn’t block it out.
He stood, slid his arms into the jacket. He hadn’t said a word after her reply. Sara rose to her feet, but couldn’t have moved away from that spot if she’d wanted to. Her legs felt nailed to the floor. Reece had told the truth—this was not the same man who walked out on her. His body had filled out and his face had lost its boyish look. A long-sleeved black t-shirt fit tight across well-defined muscles. She wondered how he could move his arms in the snug jacket. The sky-blue eyes she saw in her dreams seemed deeper set and held the look of a man who had lived hard for the past two years.
As he zipped his jacket, he looked at her with a slight smile that hinted of regret. “I’ll be at Mom and Dad’s until the day after Christmas if...” Leaving the sentence unfinished, he walked past her, then turned and reached out to her. The back of his hand touched her cheek. His eyes gleamed with tears. “Sara...” His voice was soft and hoarse, just above a whisper. “I still love you.”
He took his gloves from the shelf and walked out the door.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

How can Sara trust a man who abandoned her twice? When Sara's dream of her own bed-and-breakfast is finally coming true, the man who left her twice shows up wanting to be her prince again. Life has been harsh for James since he ran out on Sara for the second time. None of his music dreams have been realized. As a new Christian, he truly wants to make amends - but knows he won't be welcomed warmly. Will James and Sara surrender their marriage to the Lord? Or will misconceptions and selfish ambitions once again cause James to run?

Has there ever been a time when trusting someone who hurt you was easy? How did you do it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guest Blog with Becky Melby & Cathy Wienke

Going Green—God's Way

We're constantly bombarded with reminders to "Recycle, reuse, reduce." We sort bottles, cans, and newspapers. Google “Recycle” and you’ll find curtains made from milk jugs and plastic bag purses. But did it ever occur to you that God is the original Recycler? Think about it: He turned David's remorse into healing songs, and the betrayal of Jacob's
sons into their deliverance. Our God wastes nothing—not our rejection, our loneliness, not even our sin.

In Parting Secrets, the second book in our contemporary Illinois series, Jeanie Cholewinski has spent three decades hiding secrets that could ruin her relationships with her mother and daughter and destroy the reputation she's built in Galena. When two men surface from her past—one, a person whose garish tattoo haunts her nightmares, the other the father of her daughter—all of her cover-ups threaten to unravel. What she doesn’t realize at the beginning of her story is how God can use her unique history for His glory. The verse we used for this book is from the book of Esther: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance. . .will arise from another place.... And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

As we were talking about the idea of “Devine Recycling,” Cathy looked up the definition of recycling. It begins, “1. To pass again through a series of changes or treatments...” Wow! Doesn’t that describe what the Lord does to us? So we asked ourselves how God had reused things from our pasts for His purposes. Here are our answers:

My mom died when I was ten days old. My dad remarried when I was three, unknowingly bringing me into a fourteen-year volatile, physically and verbally abusive relationship with a stepmother. Her ugly words had long-term negative effects. Things like, “I’ll put you in foster care.” “I wish you were dead.” “Can't you do anything right?” and “How stupid are you?” Are just a few of the haunting words that float in my memories. My mother worked at a facility for mentally challenged adults and would often threaten to put me there. Today, years after coming to know my Savior, I volunteer at a local prison for girls ages twelve through eighteen. I have the privilege of sharing God's Word—His hope, strength, protection and grace. As I pass through the metal detector and walk the long prison corridors, I smile at God’s hand on me. You see, the girls’ prison now occupies the same complex where my mother once worked. The place she once used as a threatening tool against me is now the place where I have the joy of sharing His great love. Isn’t God grand?

My husband and I are the proud parents of four grown sons. Our boys are spaced three, four, and five years apart—not by our choosing. I suffered miscarriages between each healthy birth. Many of you know firsthand the devastation of that loss. At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything good coming out of a pregnancy that ends in empty arms. But years later I was offered the opportunity to direct a crisis pregnancy center. God’s sovereign “recycling” used my past experiences to give me compassion for women considering abortion. Even though my empty arms didn’t come from my “choice,” I knew intimately the heartache that awaited them if they decided to terminate a pregnancy. My past grief gave me many open doors for sharing God’s mercy and his gift of second chances.

We have co-authored nine Heartsongs, and in each one, our past experiences have allowed us to create depth and genuine emotion. In Garment of Praise, Hailey deals with the guilt of an abortion. Sydney, our heroine in Walk with Me, carries literal scars from her past. We both got to pour our fears into Angel—afraid of heights and storms, but also scared of not living her dreams—in Dream Chasers. But the book that reached the deepest into both of our hearts and lives was Stillwater Promise. By God’s grace, we have both been given second chances in our marriages and witnessed God’s amazing grace as He took our failings and our sins and blessed us with stronger, more beautiful marriages than we could have dreamed of. Sara’s “recycled love” story in Stillwater Promise is a direct result of God using our past mistakes for His Greater Good.

So now we’d like to ask you: Has God led you through the valley and into greener pastures that you can now share with others? What events or experiences from your past has God recycled for Greater Good—whether in life...or in fiction?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Excerpt From Parting Secrets

A taste of Parting Secrets:

Steven sat with his fingertips together, tapping his lip. “So you had a great job out there, huh?” His eyes narrowed.
Jeanie’s throat tightened. What did he know? “Y–yes.”
He nodded, then stood. “You really don’t want to talk about this, do you?”
“It was a hard time. I thought I’d made the best decision for you. You have to believe that.”
“Yeah. You said that.” He walked toward the door. “One last question and I’ll try to leave it alone. Was there someone else? Did you meet someone before your birthday? Is that the real reason you didn’t come home?”
The answer screamed in her brain. Yes. But not like you think. Not a boyfriend. I met someone. And I couldn’t get away. “No. There wasn’t anyone else.”
He nodded. “You know, there is one more question.” Blue eyes scanned her face. “When did you stop loving me, Jeanie?”
“I nev—” She gasped. That wasn’t what she’d meant to say.
He smiled. Gentle. Sweet. He walked over to her. The backs of his fingers brushed her face. “That’s all I need to know.”
And he walked out, closing the office door behind him.

These pictures were provided by the authors and are of Galena's Market House and Trolley Clock.

Key Verse for Parting Secrets:
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance. . .will arise from another place.... And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Where is "home" or the place of your birth? Was it a small town or big city?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Parting Secrets by Becky Melby and Cathy Wienke

HP 898
ISBN 978-1-60260-779-8

She never thought she’d see him again.

Jeanie Cholewinski is pursuing her dream of winning a pastry chef contest that will send her to Paris to study and possibly teach. But she hadn’t counted on her daughter’s father showing up in time to give her away at her wedding. He’s here. . .and asking questions about Jeanie’s disappearance nearly thirty years ago. If she reveals the truth, she risks losing him again.

Steven Vandenburg can’t believe he’s the father of a daughter. And he’s reconnected with his first love. But when Jeanie continues moving toward a goal that doesn’t include him, he makes a decision to settle, once again, for second best.

When the past rises up and engulfs them with its secrets, can their rekindled feelings for one another survive the devastating impact? Is there really a future for them—together?

A Wisconsin resident, BECKY MELBY has four sons and eleven grandchildren. When not writing or spending time with family, Becky enjoys motorcycle rides with her husband and reading. Becky has co-authored several books with her writing partner Cathy Wienke for Barbour Publishing.

Wisconsin native CATHY WIENKE and her husband have two sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren. Her favorite pastimes include reading and walking her dog. Cathy has co-authored numerous books with her writing partner Becky Melby for Barbour Publishing.

Do you like to cook or bake? What is one of your best dishes?